Unboxed by Non Pratt

Unboxed is a short novel by the brilliantly talented UKYA author Non Pratt (author of Trouble and Remix), published by the wonderful people at Barrington Stoke who specialise in shorter books with intelligent and articulate plots designed to encourage reluctant readers without talking down to their audience. They also use fonts and paper colourations designed to help dyslexic readers. They really are superb – check out their website.

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Even the jacket makes me emotional

Unboxed is the story of four friends, who when they were younger created a time capsule of their perfect Summer. Time has passed since that Summer, and the friends have now drifted apart, in contact mostly through social media and memories. When they made the box, there was five of them, but stomach cancer claimed Millie a few weeks ago. So despite the wedge driven between them, they meet up once again to open the box and peer into the past, to a simpler, happier time. It isn’t easy – everyone’s changed in ways both huge and small. Alix has told none of them about her girlfriend, afraid they wouldn’t understand. The whole night promises to be a mess of dredged up emotions and awkward silences, but it was what Millie made them promise to do. You can’t break a promise to a dead friend.

I’ve said it before, and I am certain I’ll say it again – Non Pratt is hands down the most authentic voice in YA fiction. You can keep your poetically lyrical teenagers, Non’s characters swear and screw up, they’re awkward in ways that are frustrating as opposed to endearingly charming – she just writes real characters in a way I’ve never come across in YA elsewhere. Unboxed is no exception – from the very plot outline I knew it was going to break my heart (and I finished it on a train, naturally), but Non captures the teen atmosphere perfectly. It’s all there – the sense of hope, the frustration, the nihilism, the fear of alienation from your friends. The fear of not fitting in. Unboxed dredges all these ideas up and mixes them into a short, punchy story that aims directly for the heart and nestles in there for life. I’m never ever getting this story out of my head. Alix is the perfect narrator for the story, hesitant and filled with regrets, but each of the four friends are perfectly portrayed and effortlessly nuanced. In just 140 pages we get a brief snapshot of these people, of who they used to be, who they are now, and where they might going. It’s a masterpiece that absolutely encapsulates the fears and dreams that come with being on the cusp of adulthood. It’s achingly real, smart, and honest. It’ll take you an hour to read and it’ll change you. Give a short book a chance.

Thanks for Reading, as always.

D

P.S. You can pick up Unboxed, and all of Non’s books right here.

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Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

So for those of you who maybe don’t remember – Alice’s debut, Solitaire, was one of my absolute favourite books in 2014. It was a smart, witty, apathetic coming of age story, a Perks of Being a Wallflower for the Tumblr generation or whatever. It was a great book. So when I was lucky enough to be emailed a final manuscript of her highly anticipated second novel, Radio Silence, I pretty much screamed. Out loud. On the shop floor. Which in a bookshop is frowned upon.

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Frances Janvier is Head Girl. Frances Janvier is a straight A student. Frances Janvier is on the fast track to an Oxbridge English Literature degree. She studies as often as she can, sleeping little and not really forming any friends – everything sacrificed for the hope of a place at one of the best universities in the country. The only creative outlet Frances allows herself is fan art for a podcast series called Universe City, where the androgynous Radio Silence battles a collection of horrific monstrosities in an inescapable science fiction landscape. As Frances steadily becomes more and more stressed out by her approaching exams and her entry interview for university, she starts to become more engaged in the fictional Universe City world. When she discovers that the mysterious Aled Last, who she’s lived across the road from for most of her life is also a massive fan of the podcast, she finally discovers what it means to have a true friend and starts to understand that life is more than academic achievement. But Aled’s life is a lot tougher than Frances realises, and while he helps her to grow, she starts to see the cracks in him. He needs her help, but he could never say it out loud – but his time is running out.

It’s better. Radio Silence is better than Solitaire. I KNOW. Big words, but I mean them 100%. Frances and Aled’s friendship is absolutely everything I want in a fictional friendship ever, and Alice deliberately allows their friendship to never bubble into a romance, which was SO REFRESHING. Frances is fraught, confused and passionate – all angles and manic energy, where Aled is softer, creative and submissive. I have a lot of feelings for Aled, and a lot of empathy to how he seems to drift along with life doing things that are decided for him but never truly grasping what he really wants. Their co-dependent friendship is flanked by some excellent supporting characters too, Raine being a big favourite, especially as she represents the opposite of Frances’ academic obsession. Daniel too is stony-faced, but his unravelling as a character is really sweet.

Still love you though, bae.

Still love you though, bae.

One of the biggest themes in Radio Silence is the idea that going to university is not the only route available to young people – and it’s such an important subject that is never tackled enough. There’s so much pressure on teenagers to start attending higher education, when no-one is willing to admit that there are plenty of other roads in life to take. Alice lets her own scepticism towards the education system flow through the story, making it clear that happiness can be achieved through all sorts of less “traditional” routes. One of the other amazing things about the book is that it is SO DIVERSE. Not a single character is 100% straight, but no character is defined by their sexuality either, and she even touches on ideas of asexuality too. And it’s racially diverse too, proving that there really is no excuse to not write with inclusivity. AND it touches on mental illness with honesty and care. Seriously, it manages to wrap up so many themes with a fun plot driven by beautiful dialogue that made Solitaire feel for real and down to Earth. Alice has the perfect YA voice.

Plus, as a massive fan of Welcome to Night Vale, the podcast theme was absolutely amazing! Universe City feels dark, vibrant and perfectly crafted, the excerpts really breaking up the story beautifully with pieces of hugely lyrical writing. I want it to be a real podcast. Alice if you’re reading this let’s make Universe City. Please.

It isn’t out until later this month, but I cannot recommend it highly enough. She knows what she’s doing, and she makes it look effortless. This is Young Adult Fiction done flawlessly.

Hey, Thanks.

D

P.S. – You can pre-order the book RIGHT HERE so you should do that thing.

All of The Above by Juno Dawson

Juno is probably one of the most criminally underrated authors in the country. Despite her brilliant, often tongue in cheek, and often downright terrifying horror novels (Say Her Name, Under My Skin), not to mention her brilliantly important non-fiction work of gender and sexuality (How To Be a Boy, This Book Is Gay), I never quite feel she gets the praise she deserves for the huge amount of work she does. Well, I’m going to try! All Of The Above is her latest YA novel, and unlike her previous offerings, this one is strictly contemporary – no witches, no spirits and no murderous tattoos. It’s also probably her best novel to date. Here’s why…

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Toria is the new girl in the sleepy, dilapidated seaside town of Brompton-on-Sea, and being the new girl in a small town is a big deal. She’s concerned by all the same things that bother most new teenagers at a new school – making friends, passing A-Levels and getting to finally leave home. When she meets the bright, pixie-ish Daisy, the outspoken and chaotic Polly and their gang of misfits and freaks, she finds a group of fun, vibrant friends that make her online contacts overseas drop straight off her agenda. Toria is fascinated by the explosively chaotic Polly, and the two girls soon become best friends. Toria even meets a boy at one of the gang’s late night meetings at the seafront’s Crazy Golf Course – Nico is the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen, and there’s some serious biology at work driving the two of them together. It might not be love, but it’s inescapable and it’s the most grown up Toria’s ever felt in a relationship. Everything seems perfect, the Summer days stretching out forever, laughing on the beach with cheap wine fuelling them – this is everything TV has told Toria that teenage life with best friends should be like! But she’d be naïve to think that this is all there is to life, and slotting into a complex friendship group is never straightforward… Especially one as complicated as this one.

The full cover creates the tone of the book PERFECTLY.

The full cover creates the tone of the book PERFECTLY.

Why is All Of The Above Juno’s best novel to date? Because of all the reasons – that’s why. These are her most wonderfully messy and complex characters yet, and I love each one in very different ways, which I’m going to attempt to sum up in words now. Toria, our narrator, is a confused but determined main character, filled with a brilliant mix of bubbling emotions are feelings, and her worldview is forever shifting as she grows throughout the story. I love her fierce loyalty to her friends, as well as her vulnerability when it comes to being desperate for Polly to like her – friend crushes are a real thing and desperately wanting someone to be your friend is awful. Polly is something else entirely, a pure force of nature that often contradicts herself, but who never stops or looks back. She stands larger than life in Toria’s eyes, but gradually her layers are unraveled to reveal a diverse, eclectic and above all scared young woman. Her protectiveness over her friends is absolutely beautiful, and her gut instinct way of life balances Toria’s anxious overthinking superbly. But that’s not the end of it! ALL of this book’s characters are brilliant, and Daisy and Beasley are both wonderful – I love Daisy with all my heart, her gentle, peaceful and bright outlook fill the story with light and a gentle Summerness that helps tone down Polly’s whirlwind personality. Beasley is effortlessly sweet and flawed, but full of passion and love, and I found myself connecting with his desperate need for attention really well. Everyone is so distinctive and well written that they play across the page together so vividly that it’s impossible to not want to be part of their group.

I asked James to sign a special page in the book instead of the title page. Heartbroken.

I asked Juno to sign a special page in the book instead of the title page. Heartbroken.

As with Dawson’s previous books, her work as a teacher clearly shines through in her dialogue, which is downright hilarious, and effortlessly realistic and on point – she writes in the throwaway, snappy style that teenagers talk, complete with excessive swearing and pop-culture references. What makes All Of The Above stand so triumphantly above the crowd though is Juno’s dedication to diversity. She’s always been a champion of representation, but this new book really effortlessly pulls in some of the aspects of everyday human beings that are still so worryingly lacking in everyday fiction. It examines sexuality in an honest and open way, shunning simplistic stereotypes and instead looking at real, genuine people and their complex (and often messy) emotions and feelings, and it touches upon mental health in a subtle, heartbreaking way. Self-harm and eating disorders are touched upon throughout the story, and are thankfully un-romanticised and quite painfully honest and blunt.

Ultimately, what I think Juno has achieved with All Of The Above is a rare accurate glimpse into the painful, beautiful and messily confusing experience of growing up and finding out who you are. And by that I mean that the characters have about as much idea at the end as they did to start with – it understands that there is no universal teenage experience, and it isn’t afraid to look at the darkness that comes in adolescence (one that most grownups would like to pass off as “a phase”). But it also isn’t afraid to look at vibrant joy and love and friendship that comes with the intensity of being a teenager. The whole book filled me with hope and melancholy, and it’s one of the most powerful and adorable books to come out of the UKYA scene.

Thanks for Reading,

D

P.S. – You can buy All of The Above HERE

P.P.S. – You can follow Juno Dawson on Twitter HERE

P.P.P.S – Obviously, the book does cover some darker themes, and as such contains triggers for self harm and eating disorders.

The Next Together by Lauren James

I managed to snag a copy of Lauren’s début at Walkercon when I was down in London a few months ago, and the concept definitely intrigued me, even though I knew it was pretty heavy on the romance front, it worked in some interesting sci-fi elements to give it a very unique angle (also, I swear I’m getting better at romance – I must be getting soft in my old age). All that, combined with a really pretty jacket at some rave reviews made me pick it a couple of weeks ago when I had no idea what to read next…

Such an evocative jacket

Such an evocative jacket

The Next Together tells the story of the fated pair Kate and Matthew, who a destined to be together. But things aren’t that simple – the story of Kate and Matthew takes place across centuries, because they keep being reborn over and over, meeting again and again throughout history and falling in love, only to be cruelly torn apart each time. The story takes place in 3 different time frames, following 3 different sets of Kate and Matt in different key points in history – in 2039, in an insular England cut off from Europe by a third world war several years earlier (Matt and Kate are university students); in 1745, during the Jacobite invasion of England (Kate is a lady of high standing in Carlisle, Matt is one of her servants); and finally in 1854, during the Crimean War (Matt is one of the first war journalists for the Times, and Kate is his assistant, posing as a boy). Each time their presence in the world changes the course of history – but what makes them so important, and who keeps bringing them back? All they ever want is to be able to live a single life together, instead of being forced to watch the other die repeatedly through the halls of time.

One of the first things that struck me about The Next Together is how well Lauren has fleshed out the quirks of her characters – particularly Kate, who is allowed to really breathe and flourish in the story in a way that so many leading ladies are sadly not allowed to. She deeply loves Matt, and that’s always obvious in her behaviour, but she’s also not defined by it – she’s the constant source of wit and intelligent dialogue throughout the story. The time landscape of 2019 is told in the story as well, through notes back and forth between that time’s Matt and Kate (though we never hear their story first hand), and in these their two personalities are really brought to life, which helps flavour them throughout all the other time frames. Each time, Kate is beautifully quirky and unashamedly funny and deliberately irritating ina way that so few authors ever let their characters be – which is a shame, because it’s so endearing to have her be so silly and fun with Matt, who is much drier and more serious, meaning they play off each other perfectly. Also, why we’re on the subject of characters, I have to mention Kate’s two grandmothers – such a simple move of wonderful diversity to throw into a story and evidence that it really is that easy to bring representation into your story.

and we can expect MOAR!

and we can expect MOAR!

Lauren uses artefacts and illustrations to add an extra layer of depth and historical accuracy to the story, and they also help break up the plot really well, setting the scene of each time landscape perfectly without requiring huge amounts of historical explanation within the text. As well as this, she also jumps between each section regularly, to avoid them getting too bogged down and repetitive, and giving the plot a sense of vibrant energy and direction. The whole story escalates really well, ramping up the tension and adding plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader really invested in each of the plot threads, which is no small feat, but towards the end, Lauren starts to work in subtle references to unknown outside influences on the story that are never quite explained, but really add a brilliant sense of depth and intrigue to the universe – I distinctly got the impression of a world  that had much more than we got to see, and that makes it feel so much more interesting and made the history of it so much more tantalising. In fact, I’ve just heard via Twitter that a book two is already in the works, so I can’t wait to see some of the darkness to Matt and Kate’s world that we never see directly in The Next Together.

Thanks for reading, as always.

D

P.S. The Next Together is out in September, but you can pre-order it here.

P.P.S. You can follow Lauren of Twitter HERE and I recommend you do, she posts funny drunk vids with Alice Oseman.

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

If you’re not familiar with Jenny Downham, you really should be. Her bestselling debut, Before I Die was an amazingly powerful examination of mortality and life that was taken to the big screen with Dakota Fanning under the name Now Is Good. Her second novel is the electrifyingly dark You Against Me, which deservedly won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Her latest novel, Unbecoming, is out in September, and blows her previous brilliant pieces of writing clean out of the water.

Don't get me started in how gorgeous this is.

Don’t get me started in how gorgeous this is.

Katie’s life is complicated. Her mother is piling pressure on her to succeed in her exams, and her friends have abandoned her completely after she kissed Esme, her best friend. She’s alone in the world, her Dad with his new family, her Mum at work all the time, and her brother Chris at his special needs school most days – Katie has no control over her life, and nothing she wants to do even if she did. But when Mary turns up, life suddenly becomes much more interesting – because Mary is Katie’s grandmother, a grandmother she never really knew she had. Mary is in the early stages of dementia, and after her partner Jack dies, she’s left alone and confused with nowhere to go. Her daughter had hoped never to see her again, but Mary has no-one to turn to, and her memories are fading with each day. Katie is determined to look after her ailing grandmother, and to repair the yawning gulf that separates her elderly relative from her mother, but some memories unlock secrets, and some secrets can do more damage. Katie needs to piece together the truth from a stubborn, uncommunicative mother and the rapidly vanishing memories of Mary to try and work out the strange, omnipresent darkness in her family’s past.

Unbecoming shouldn’t work. It shouldn’t. In theory, it’s trying to do too much at once, cover too many themes. What it should be is chaotic and meandering. What it actually is, is tight and sprawling and beautifully, perfectly crafted – like a strange tangle of coloured wools that look so dissimilar, but have been woven together which such skill and talent to create something staggeringly breathtaking.

Move over, John Green.

Move over, John Green.

Katie, the main character of the novel, is a superbly written young girl, full of fire and drive, as well as open uncertainty and anxiety. She’s trapped in a world she can’t escape, but she’s starting to scratch the surfaces of what her life could be, looking at the memories of Mary and trying to escape the control of her mother. But in amongst all her burning passion for a wider world, she’s filled with guilt and a strong need to do right by her exhausted but overbearing mother –  and this mix makes her a sweet, caring and immediately engaging protagonist. Mary is absolutely heartbreaking, the parts of the book from her point of view are bittersweet and filled with pure, unrestrained emotion. The way time meanders and snaps back and forth for her is never confusing to read, but her confusion is palpable in every line, and her muddled memories are all at once heartwarmingly bright and innocent, and tinged with an edge of sadness that meant I had a lump in my throat pretty much at all times. Her carefree attitude combined with her constant need to do the right thing makes her a flickering and unique character full of passion and fire. Caroline (Katie’s mother and Mary’s daughter) is also a superb contrast of emotions and personalities, so fearful of the world and of what it could do to her children, but so full of resentment and passionate rage towards her mother. All of Jenny’s characters are brilliantly, faithfully portrayed on the page, and she never lets them be flawless heroes or two dimensional villains – Chris is emotionally articulate and loved, and Simona is firey, strident and stubborn.

So dark, so strong.

So dark, so strong.

It’s not just Jenny’s characters that shine, though – her writing style is totally flawless, lyrical and philosophical, drifting across the page like sweet incense. Unbecoming reads like a Beautiful South song, messy and heartfelt and so close to home that it sees all the beauty in the mundane and everyday. Even the horribly painful moments have a sheen to them because her writing style is so fluid and gorgeous – every word weighs with purpose and emotion, and she never wastes a single one. It’s a dozen glorious threads and every single one of them sings and vibrates in harmony to create a bigger story. There’s plot twists and darkness that’s handled with intelligence and sensitivity, as well as staggering passion for life that made my heart balloon in my chest, as well as bringing me to tears on multiple occasions. Jenny handles dementia and depression and mental health achingly well, and her look at the development of Katie’s sexuality is subtle, tasteful and expertly woven into the larger plot. Mary’s dementia is so well handled, actually, that it couldn’t help but break my heart over and over again.

Unbecoming is a powerfully important YA novel, covering three generations of women, each with secrets and vibrancy that leap and skip about the pages, examining so many vital themes of sexuality and mental health. It’s a true triumph of writing, and Jenny Downham may well be one the all time greats. This is a classic in the making.

Thanks for reading, ya’ll.

D

P.S. You can pre-order Unbecoming HERE – out in September.

As always, thanks to Phil Earle for the proof. He’s never given me a bad book yet.

Another Day by David Levithan

For those of you who didn’t already know, David Levithan’s Every Day is one of my favourite books. It’s a truly original and unique YA story that tells the story of the character A, who wakes up every single morning in someone else’s body, spending the day in their world, before hoping bodies again at midnight. The person A inhabits can be any ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and through that, Levithan uses the book to really explore the meaning of the self, who we really are when all our defining physical characteristics are stripped away. It’s a triumph of diversity, as well as a hauntingly bittersweet love story. When I heard he wanted to write a follow-up, I was ecstatic! When I heard it would be the same story as Every Day, but from the perspective of someone who experiences A from the outside, I was a bit more hesitant. Retreading old ground is risky business, but I liked the idea of viewing the story from a different perspective – and Another Day didn’t let down.

These Jackets are just BEAUTIFUL.

These Jackets are just BEAUTIFUL.

Rhiannon has been with Justin for so long that she’s able to look past his faults and flaws, past their arguments and the way he can lose his temper. She knows, somewhere deep down that he loves her, even if he very rarely shows it. Her friends think she could do better, but she knows otherwise – Justin is lost, confused and uncertain about everything in his changing world. Everything but her. One day, Justin seems different – more attentive and caring . He asks what she wants to do, and he listens to her in a way she’s never known him do before. They go to the beach and have a perfect, romantic day together, just talking and being themselves on the beach. It’s everything Rhiannon knows they can be. Except the next day, Justin is as surly and uncommunicative as ever, and she can’t figure out why. He only has vague memories of the beach, and he gets angry and defensive when she tries to bring it up. But then someone arrives to see Rhiannon – someone strangely familiar – and tells her that she never spent the day at the beach with Justin at all…

Levithan allows the reader to see a different side to his two main characters than we saw in Every Day here. Through A’s eyes, Rhiannon was this perfect, flawless girl who deserved nothing but a perfect, flawless love, but from inside Rhiannon’s head, we get a very different picture. We see her doubts and fears, and we see the things she thinks and feels with shame. We get to see her as a more complete person, full of shades of grey, than the black and white goddess she appears as in the first book. And, of course, through her eyes we get to see the naïve and almost childish nature of A, unable to comprehend that wishes and reality are two separate things. He becomes a more frustratingly idealistic character, and it’s clever how the roles aren’t just straight reversed from the first novel. I also liked that we got more insight into Justin from Rhiannon’s perspective. In Every Day, through the snapshot life of A, we see an aggressive bully who doesn’t appreciate his girlfriend at all, not like A can – but again, Rhiannon’s point of view is all about muddy waters and shades of grey. Justin is in pain, he’s struggling with life, and he doesn’t know how to ask for help, so he lashes out instead. There are moments of genuine tenderness from him in Another Day that really flesh out his character and make Rhiannon’s feelings for him more understandable.

It's worth reading book one first, I think.

It’s worth reading book one first, I think.

Another Day is pretty philosophical, and while I understand it wants to look at ideas of identity and the importance of appearances, I felt like some of Rhiannon’s thoughts and feelings were a little bit… I dunno, overly thoughtful? But they’re fascinating none the less, and it allows the author the chance to ask some pretty big questions – like is love really all there is? Rhiannon struggles with her feelings towards A, who she loves unconditionally, with the feelings she has towards the different bodies A inhabits each day. She thinks of herself as not being a shallow person, but she can’t always love A in the same way when A is a girl, or a boy, or simply not someone she finds attractive. It looks at different kinds of love, both romantic and platonic, and it does it in a bold, stark and intelligent way, never removing the fact that what is on the outside really does matter – maybe not as much as what’s inside, but it still does.

Levithan’s writing is up to its usual standard, full of clever metaphors and sharp, intelligent turns of phrase, all underpinned with heart aching and down to Earth dialogue that’s full of breathless first love, lust and all kinds of other emotions. It has the same sense of whirring energy that his other works do, the kind of youthful energy that underpins great YA, but Another Day is laced with a melancholy, especially if you’ve read Every Day. A is hopeful and full of determination the first book, but this one is much more full of doubts and uncertainties, and it paints a great counterpoint to most upbeat, happy YA fiction.

All in all, Another Day is a wonderful book that made me cry, laugh and then cry again, but it didn’t sweep me away in the same way as Every Day. I’d recommend reading Every Day first, I think you’ll get a lot more out of this book if you’re already familiar with the story.

Thanks for Reading!

D

Free Writing No. 1 – Half a World

So, I’m trying to write something. A fictional something. Right now it’s about 32,000 words and I have literally no idea if any of them are good or terrible or whatever. But one of the writing techniques I was recommended was Free Writing, where you sit for 20 minutes and write the first thing that comes into your head. It’s been fun so far! I’m not going to post all of them, because some of them are kinda awful, but I thought I might edit some of them and share them on here to see if anyone cares in the slightest! I’m really not expecting anyone to, but stranger things have happened. I mean, it rains frogs in some places. This being read is pretty normal by comparison.

Shut up Darran.


Silence echoed throughout the gym hall that housed the talent show, punctuated by a single awkward cough. Down beneath me, a hundred or so eyes gazed up at me as I stood on the stage, waiting for me to start. Someone laughed nervously, obviously assuming that this boy in full makeup and dress, wielding a guitar, was some sort of novelty drag act. Nothing but a comedy cabaret played for laughs. There was only one girl in that audience who knew that this was me as I truly was, as only I could feel comfortable. I sought out her green, fierce eyes, and my heart swelled as I saw her immediately in front of me – stage front and centre, just like she’d promised. I stepped up to the microphone and hesitated.

What if they keep thinking this is a joke? And where is the rest of my band? I thought to myself. But time was running on, and I could already see Mrs Erenmeyer frantically gesticulating with impatience. She had no idea I’d planned on performing dressed as a girl either, but she hadn’t batted an eyelid when I arrived dressed like this. Clearly she’d run enough high school talent shows in her time to find the idea of a teenage boy cross dressing positively tame.

There was a hum of energy from the PA as my red wig brushed against the microphone, and finally I found my courage and my voice.

‘Hi,’ I said, trying to maintain a bored, Alanis Morissette drawl, ‘My names Emily Dart, and this is…’

I faltered. I had no band. They’d freaked out when I told them that I planned on performing as Emily, tried to explain to them that Emily is who I really am. All those songs of teen angst we’d written together take on a whole new world when you realise that I really am struggling more than your average horny teenager.

“And this is Unqualified Architects.” Came a voice over the PA. To my right, Anthony was saddling up his lime green guitar, a sudden hiss of static as he pushed down his distortion pedal. I felt my heart catch in my throat as Mike picked up his bass on my left and Adrian sat down behind his drums, adjusting the stool to account for his gigantic frame.

“Warning, we’re really fucking loud.” Anthony spat into the mic, fixing me with a savage grin of devil-may-care styling, full of punk rock attitude. Mrs Erenmyer’s face was a mask of purple rage.

We broke into Half a World, one of the first songs me and Ant had written, four years ago. I slammed my glittered converse into the distortion pedal at my feet, and felt power surge through me as I hammered out the aggressive 16th note riff on my old blue guitar. I spun around in a rapturous spin of elation, feeling my brain explode with endorphins as my pale cream summer dress flowed outwards with my twist. Mike burst into a high-end bass solo that told me I had just a bar before I needed to be back at the microphone. Behind me, Adrian was pinning us down with a tight, machine-gun fire drum beat on the snare.

‘I know that I’m not whole, but I know a lot more than you.’ I crooned into the mic, as Anthony and Mike spat aggressively into theirs the backing refrain,

‘What do you know? What do you know?’ They chanted.

I saw the girl I loved in front of me, not bobbing her head, or tapping along with the music, but arms and legs flailing wildly with pure energy and passion. Right then, I felt like the most important girl in the world, and I could escape the unimaginable feeling of rightness as my painted nails flew up and down the fretboard.


So that was a thing! What came out of my brain! I hope you liked it. If you want to tell me anything about it. feel free to leave a comment, or tweet me (@ShinraAlpha) – I look forward to your torrents of abuse.

THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT.

D